Deborah is a fifty-nine year old woman who grew up in Cambridge, went to Notre Dame College in Manchester, New Hampshire and worked in accounting for numerous companies including Prudential Insurance and Comcast.
After suffering from a cerebral aneurysm when she was forty-four years old, she was living in a nursing home. She was clear that she did not want to spend the rest of her life at the nursing home, but was unable to live alone and did not have anyone who was able to provide her care. Two years ago, Deborah was referred to the Adult Family Care (AFC) program at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services to find a caregiver for her to live with. Soon after, the AFC program found a caregiver match for Deborah named Viergetha Felix.
When Deborah went to live with Viergetha, she was wheelchair bound, had severe insomnia, and was incontinent. Deborah would sleep for only an hour before waking up and calling out for help. Viergetha was not getting any sleep and there were behavioral issues that were extremely difficult to manage. Viergetha called the program after the first two weeks and said was sorry, but that she could not continue to have Deborah live with her. With a lot of support and encouragement from the AFC staff, as well as creative ideas to address the insomnia and behavioral issues, Viergetha agreed to try for another week. Some of the ideas were effective. Deborah started sleeping through the night and the behavioral issues went away. She was also set up with physical therapy and is now able to ambulate with a walker. Viergetha established clear guidelines and routines that have helped Deborah thrive. As issues come up that are difficult for Viergetha or Deborah, they continue to turn to the AFC nurse and social worker for support and ideas.
Deborah and Viergetha are now both very happy and appreciative of one another. “It’s like she’s family”, says Viergetha. Deborah says to Viergetha, “not too many people can do what you do.” Patricia, an AFC nurse who has worked with them for the past two years, said, “Viergetha has changed Deborah’s life.”